In today’s saturated Instagram fitness world, it is very easy to develop a sense of cynicism towards athletes who are always able to post photos of beautiful six pack abs, or a masterly crafted, curvy back side. It is easy to justify their excellence in the sport by blaming it on extra-curricular substances, or more likely you will make the claim, “Well, they have it easy because of their genetics”.
Although the “easy genetics” claim is somewhat true, it most certainly will never account for the time and preparation that professional athletes put into their craft. All the genetics in the world will not give you a set of six pack abs, or a well-muscled body. Maintaining a lean, muscled body takes time, effort, and preparation.
And that’s the key: preparation.
Because many of these individuals are sponsored in one way or another, these “gifted” individuals take the time, day in and day out, to ensure that they have meals prepared, are eaten at regular intervals, and do not stray from their meal plan. What you almost never see on social media are the whole food meals that they eat with monotony, or the tanning sessions to give themselves that racy, shadowed photograph.
So how can you improve your image? What are the true-blue secrets to the fitness industry? I’ve included a list of my top 5 ways to improve your personal brand's image below. Invest more WHOLE-HEARTED effort into each one, and I guarantee you’ll drastically improve your own chances at receiving a sponsorship, or maybe even just achieving the body you’ve always dreamed of…
- Build a meal plan, and STICK TO IT.
- Meal plans are, above all else, the most important factor in maintaining an envy worthy body. Maintaining a lean body year-round is hard work that most people lack the willpower to achieve. If you want to set yourself apart from the crowd, you must be willing to deny yourself the everyday pleasures that normal folks indulge in.
- Set aside time every week to adjust your nutrition (if necessary), prepare meals, and keep them with you always (you never know when you’ll get stuck on the side of the road, or must work late).
- Invest in a trainer.
- No, I don’t mean your run of the mill trainer at your local gym. This individual should be an EXPERT in all facets of training. A few key questions to help you weed out casual trainers are:
- What nutritional certifications do you own?
- Have you passed any training certifications such as Resistance Training Specialist?
- How long was said certification course? (if it’s less than a week, it holds no real merit in regards to true training techniques)
- Do you have example before/after photos of clients that you have trained recently? (be willing to filter out the staged photos as lighting and tanning can create the illusion of drastic change)
- Have you trained anyone with injuries, if so, how did you work around them?
- Invest in a decent camera (smartphones or a hand-held point-and-shoot work equally well if you know how to use them).
- Learning how to modify characteristics such as aperture, shutter speed, light sensitivity (ISO), and even camera placement can help your photos take on that professionally staged photo shoot look.
- Camera angles can help focus on your strengths, and downplay your weaknesses. For example, if you store fat around your mid-section, you want to steer clear of any bending/sitting shots as this will create unsightly wrinkles that may not be indicative of your fitness level.
- Locate the best lighting
- Lighting can be your best friend, or your worst enemy. Ideal lighting is typically placed above you, and off to one side. This will create shadows to help illuminate your musculature and even make you look leaner.
- Fake it ‘til you make it!
- Social media is just like any type of media; it must capture your audience’s attention. Even if you are not confident in the beginning, fake the confidence. Humans tend to gravitate towards powerful personalities, so don’t be afraid to really ham it up! Now we aren't supporting vain conceited personalities but, entertain, guide, and inform are key aspects of a successful social media campaign. Hit those aspects throughout the week, and you’ll greatly improve your follower base, which will, in turn, give you the confidence to keep producing content.
As you can see, all these tips require preparation. You must take the time to prepare the food, train at the gym, fiddle with your camera, and find the perfect lighting. It seems daunting at first, but if you invest the time, many of these steps become second nature.
“So what if I don’t have the time to do all these things?”.
That is the question of someone who isn’t, honestly, invested in their goal. We’re all given the same amount of time each day, but how we allocate that time is what separates the champions, from the not. To create the chance for success, you must prioritize. If it is important to you, you will FIND the time.
When asked about his success as a lawyer, Johnnie Cochran famously said “I'm a big believer in the fact that life is about preparation, preparation, preparation.”
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